expecting: things to do when you're expecting #2 or more!

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Congratulations.  Your life is about to change even more!  This time you know what to do with a baby.  Handling both and the new family dynamic is the challenge!  Remember that your first child may still be young, but no matter what age doesn’t want to be labeled as “the big one” and “not a baby”. 

Most important

Read the book Siblings Without Rivalry.  About many things, this book will help you frame the relationship so you can prevent issues and know how to deal with the ones that are inevitable.

You can buy this book for other family members and let them know that the approach in the book is the one you’ll be taking. 

Personally, I’ve challenged family members to work hard on their interactions with my children.  While not always smooth, it is well worth it in the end.  Rather than suppressing opinions of how they interact with my children, I try to communicate them clearly and simply:  “When one child hurts the other, remember to go to the hurt one first, comfort, and then calmly and firmly address the other child.” It also helps frame some of the underlying causes for that behavior which is more helpful, especially for family members.

Simplify some of your family routines so there won’t be a huge transition when the baby is born.  Why?  This is helpful in different ways.  At our house my husband slowly took over bathtime about three months before our second child was due.  This gave him his own special time with our daughter (nice for them), gave me a chance to sit for a bit (nice for me) and then when the baby was born, I was able to tend to her needs and still be totally present to help put our older one to bed because I had that set bathtime to nurse, etc. (nice for all of us!).

What not to do!
I very rarely talk about what not to do—in general, my whole philosophy is: Say what you WANT. 
But I break with tradition and will list phrases to avoid, along with great substitutions:
AVOID                                                      SAY
You are going to be the big boy now!     You are going to have a brother/sister!
Now you can get a big girl bed!               (Say nothing—buy another crib)
You’re going to be the big sister!             You are going to be a sister.
You’ll show your brother what to do!    (Say nothing—it’s not his responsibility!)

Have a number of slings on hand

There are so many slings on the market these days.  The second (and third, etc.) baby can spend a lot of time in a sling and it makes your life much easier.  There isn’t the same kind of time, for example, to soothe a baby down for a nap.  Often school pick-up time for another child interferes with nap time.  Slings protect a baby’s head and, when you find the right one, offer a comforting space.  Details about slings can be found here.

My friends and I have found

  • In the beginning you almost wonder what all the fuss was about with your first baby (as long as your baby doesn't have reflux issues).  The baby stage is usually easier because you know so much more.
You will figure things out by accident, which can remind you to try different things every once and a while.

  • You will ask things of the second child you never would have asked of the first.  Such as your child’s ability to nap in the stroller or attend an event for a sibling.

  • It's a very intense journey, and can catch you off guard!

  • Use non-qualifying language around sibling:  in general, stick to “sister” and “brother” without age or size qualifiers.
  • Sibling love can start strong but often takes time to build-- it won’t appear because parents, caregivers, or other family demand or expect it.

Books to read with your child while you are pregnant and when you have your baby

  • When You Were Inside Mommy, by Joanna Cole
  • I’m a Big Sister/I’m a Big Brother, by Joanna Cole (note: I leave out the word “big” when I read this book—but the text is simple and I’ve never met a child who didn’t like this book)
  • Hello Baby, by Lizzy Rockwell
  • The New Baby at Your House, by Joanna Cole

I tailor all these books to fit my needs—in place of the word doctor in some I used white-out tape so it would read “midwife”.  I leave out the word “big” when it modifies “sister” or “brother”.



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